Oh, pasta how I love thee. When I followed a vegetarian diet for a few years, I really learned how to have fun with pasta and man, I ate a lot of it. These days, I’m back to eating meat but my love for the versatility of pasta has carried through. I learned you can really toss pasta with almost anything – especially vegetables – and make a healthy, satisfying meal. Of course, adding a bit of sausage, pancetta or bacon never hurts but none of them are necessary to make a delicious pasta dish.
That being said, this recipe contains pancetta. Just sayin’.
orecchiette with pancetta and asparagus
- 1 lb. dried orecchiette pasta
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 oz. pancetta
- 1/2 medium onion, cut through the root end and sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 1/2 lbs. asparagus, trimmed of tough root ends and sliced into 1-2 inch pieces
- 8 sweet mini peppers, sliced
- 6-8 leaves fresh basil, chopped
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup reserved pasta water
Cook pasta al dente, according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.
While the pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pancetta and cook for at least 5 minutes or until fat begins to melt and brown. Add onions and garlic and continue cooking for a couple of minutes, stirring frequently. Be careful to not burn the garlic.
Add asparagus and peppers and continue cooking, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Veggies should still be brightly colored and still have a touch of bite to them.
Add reserved pasta water and stir well. Toss immediately with hot pasta and serve with chopped basil, a bit of freshly ground black pepper and freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano.
If you like your veggies softer, you can cook a bit longer or blanch them first in the pasta water, before adding them to the pan.
Of course, a lot of veggies will work with this, so take your pick.
If you enjoy pasta like I do, you should also try my pasta with cooked fresh tomato sauce, my fresh no-cook tomato sauce, my lemon pasta with asparagus and sea scallops, or my lemon spaghetti with broccolini and shrimp, to name just a few!